Ruff Waters, Inc. is a local Omaha company that is based in Nebraska.
At Ruff Waters, Inc. we are committed to the community and
actively participate through volunteerism of both time and treasure.
We love Omaha! From schools, to businesses, to all the great things this city has to offer. With this, we try to give a little back to our community through silent auctions, sponsorships of teams, and involvement within classrooms. Below, please find a list of some of the organizations we have helped support in recent years.
Are you trying to raise money for your school, a special event, or something else? Ruff Waters might be able to help! We are always looking for new ways to assist in this area and over the last several years have donated trees, bubbling boulders, and pondless waterfalls.
Are you looking for a guest speaker to spark interest in your classroom!? Ruff Waters is ready to help! We are always looking for a new gig and have donated our time to present at the college, high school, middle school and elementary school levels. From Accent Gardens to Entrepreneurship and Pond Construction to Ocean Friends - we enjoy working with students and are happy to help! Though all presentations are fun, the one nearest our heart is the Ocean Friends presentation at the Elementary School level. For the last decade we have brought some very friendly saltwater animals into this early learning setting and have seen faces "light up" with excitement.
"The Twig" is a newsletter published every five months by the Omaha Home for Boys. In the September 2011 issue, Ruff Waters, Inc. is highlighted in the feature story. Preview the interesting article below.
Ruff Waters, Inc. is the proud nominee and recipient of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Month Award.
September Small Business of the Month: Ruff Waters, Inc.
Published: Sept. 6, 2012
Amazing things can happen when you work hard, exceed customer expectations - and go with the flow. Just ask Scott Ruff, founder and chief customer care officer at Ruff Waters, Inc., the Greater Omaha Chamber's September Small Business of the Month.
Launched as an "on-the-side" aquarium installation and management business in 1990, Ruff Waters has made a smooth transition into a full-scale, multi-faceted enterprise. Aquariums led to pond installation which led to landscape design and installation, retaining walls, patios, fountains and other water features. Just last year, the company introduced container gardens to its vibrant mix of services.
"Our tagline has always been 'Many Choices. Always Beautiful.' which speaks to the breadth of our services and meticulous nature of our management," said Ruff.
Constantly striving to be better, Ruff fine-tuned the operation in 2011 by participating in the brand new Gallup Entrepreneur Acceleration System. The Chamber worked with Gallup for three years to develop the program, which utilizes economic development leaders as mentors. Other program partners include the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
"This program helped us shape who we are as a company and how we engage with our customers. With these principles, our internal relationships have been made stronger, and as a team we have strengthened relationships with our customers," said Ruff. "As a token part of this, I gave myself the new title of chief customer care officer which reflects our service culture and our commitment to the customer."
That commitment is highlighted in the company's mission statement which, Ruff said, guides daily operations: "To exceed customer expectations by creating exceptional visual displays with water and landscape through communication, interaction, innovation, imagination, knowledge and consistent management."
As the CCCO, Ruff said one of the most rewarding parts of the job is seeing that mission statement reflected in the form of satisfied customers.
"What can I say - receiving positive feedback from customers never gets old! More than that though, if a customer takes the time to recognize an individual on our team, it means that person embraced our mission and went the extra mile. That to me is what service is all about - going the extra mile," he said.
Also rewarding to Ruff is community interaction. He particularly enjoys school visits and speaking to students of all ages about entrepreneurship. Sometimes, he brings guests.
"My favorite presentation is bringing saltwater animals into a primary education setting. We come loaded with treats and stickers and have a lot of fun with the kids. We've done this for more than 10 years. When you bring Nemo to visit, you can guess the response."
In addition to Nemo, Ruff has found a team of employees - five full-time and five part-time - who share his vision for supreme customer service and success.
"Our team today is a close-knit group that works cooperatively, not competitively, to grow our business and exceed expectations," he said. "We're always looking for that exceptional individual with a can-do attitude and solid work ethic."
Ruff Waters is a long-time Chamber member. Its affiliation dates back over a decade now.
Ruff said, "As a business owner and lifelong Omaha resident, I am thankful for what our Chamber does for our thriving business community and vibrant city. From networking events, to promoting business, to crafting legislation, to attracting leading corporations, our Chamber works tirelessly to make Omaha a great place to live and to help businesses succeed!"
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska is the sponsor of the Small Business of the Month award. View more information or nominate a small business online.
Click here to view the article on the Greater Omaha Chamber website, featuring Ruff Waters, Inc. as the small business of the month. Click here to view a short promotional video that highlights Ruff Waters, Inc. as the small business of the month (recorded and published by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce).
Ruff Waters, Inc. is the featured article in The Daily Record.
Ruff Waters is making Omaha more beautiful,
one water feature at a time.
By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record
A fascination with the ocean and a desire to create something beautiful while treating customers in a one-of-a-kind fashion has led Scott Ruff and Ruff Waters to grow from a simple aquarium business to a multi-faceted company that continues to expand its offerings.
It also made Ruff Waters the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Month for September. That was something that Scott Ruff was not looking to happen.
"I was incredibly surprised and honored," Ruff admitted. "It was meaningful to me for two reasons: One, it meant we exceeded someone's expectations enough that they would nominate us and two, that the Chamber's board of directors, which is represented by some of Omaha's most well-known and respected companies, approved the nomination and awarded it to us."
Not bad for the little shop at 61st and Arbor Streets that started as a business with Ruff servicing aquariums. Today Ruff Waters has grown into something far more than that.
"We are a meticulous service company that ideally cares for everything we design and install - so we don't have standard 'retail' hours," Ruff said. "Our shop is open to the public by appointment, every Wednesday night from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m."
The company does a couple things to make it stand out even more from the competition. On Super Saturday, the first Saturday of the month, pizza is served to the customer. Ruff also said his refrigerator is always filled with refreshments.
And, given the importance of reef keeping, where water quality is highly important, Ruff Waters has a state-of-the-art RODI system - a water treatment system that prepares water for aquariums - that allows the shop to keep more than 400 gallons of pristine water on hand and ready to use.
"It is provided free of charge for customers that want to come get it," Ruff said. "We have actually developed a curbside pick-up that allows customers to fill their jugs without removing them from their car."
Ruff Waters now offers design, installation and management for aquariums, outdoor water features (like ponds, waterfalls and fountains), and landscapes. Last year the company added container gardens that brighten patios or entryways with colors and seasonal interest.
This year Ruff's company added lake management to its growing suite of services. The lake management programs are targeted to lakes that range in size from a quarter acre to more than 100 acres. The service uses all natural, non-chemical products that ensure crystal clear water that is free from algae and foul odors.
"Our tagline has always been 'Many Choices. Always Beautiful,'" Ruff pointed out. "That speaks to the breadth of our services and meticulous nature of our management.
Ruff admits it was his fascination with the ocean that led him into the business. He also expressed a fondness for water features in general and landscape designs/outdoor spaces that "are as functional as they are beautiful."
He started his business in 1990 while working days at First Data. The Westside High graduate had earned his marketing degree from UNL a year earlier.
"On nights and weekends I was a 'fish guy' caring for customers' aquariums," Ruff recalled. "In 2001 I decided to hang my corporate hat up and became an 'aquarium guy.'" Two part-time employees assisted him by day as he worked alone as a "pond guy" on nights and weekends. Things began to grow.
"With our commitment to ponds, many other opportunities were presented to us," he said. "Landscape design and installation, retaining walls, patios, fountains, and other water features ... all of which made sense to pursue."
Ruff Waters employs five people full time and five part-timers. When asked about a key player, Ruff points to someone who's not on the payroll.
"I have a weekly, standing lunch appointment at Petrow's with my father, Glenn," Ruff said. "Though not an employee, I can count on him to lend an attentive ear to my business dealings, as well as to assist me with several key financial reporting measures that were initiated in early 2011."
The employees are described as a "diverse group of people that work well together." Ruff said they come from different backgrounds and bring their own strengths.
[A key player on my team is Chris Burgin. Chris started with me in early 2012 as an Aquarium Manager. He quickly established himself with both customers and fellow employees as the "go to" guy. From installations, to management, to exceeding customer expectations, Chris has proven himself and continues to raise the bar for the team.
"Chris is the anchor man of a very talented aquarium services team."...]
When looking for employees, Ruff said he seeks people with a strong work ethic, can-do attitude, and the innate ability to please people and make them smile.
The business got a boost last year from Ruff's involvement in Gallup's Entrepreneurial Acceleration System. He said the program was created and launched by Gallup in 2011 to speed up business growth by helping entrepreneurs understand the power of the "Human Element."
According to Ruff: "Gallup has found key drivers of this element - motivations, attitudes and behaviors - that correlate with faster and more sustainable company growth."
The lessons learned have paid off, he said. "It definitely opened my eyes and changed the way I interact with my team and how we interact with our customers."
For Ruff, the customers are where it all starts.
"Customer care is job No. 1 and we love to make customers smile!" he said. "As a service company we have three driving principles that we refer to as the three 'R's at Ruff Waters - Relationship, Routine, and Results."
He explained that the relationships with customers start with service, but overlap a great deal into personal lives which over time has led to some great friendships.
"Our routine can be defined and measured by the consistency, dependability and overall service that we provide," he said. "As for results, well, we set the bar high and no matter the item in our care, we work diligently to ensure the end result is always beautiful."
Following those three principles has made for some very happy customers, Ruff said. Looking to the future is sure to bring a smile to Ruff's face, as this is a man who truly enjoys his work.
"Ask my wife, Mary. I am the guy who loves what he does and enjoys going to work everyday," Ruff said. "That said, I want to continue growing Ruff Waters and evaluate other opportunities as they present themselves."
One opportunity five years ago prompted the launch of an Internet business, Empire Aquatics. Ruff said the still-young company has shown steady growth and this will be the firm's best year. Another opportunity arose this year and involves sales activity on a national level, but he declined further comment on that venture.
"Beyond that, my goals are pretty simple and fairly broad," Ruff stated.
1) Make work fun.
2) Always try to see the big picture.
3) Continue to focus on things that show growth and are fruitful.
And fourth, "Make as many friends as I can along the way."
Sounds like the man has a plan.
Ruff Waters, Inc. is this article in the Omaha World-Herald
Student Ananya Mitra takes a turn putting native Nebraska fish in the new aquarium with help from Scott Ruff of Ruff Waters, the Omaha company that designed the set-up.
By Leslie Reed
One fish, two fish, channel catfish, yellow perch ...
Science students at the College of St. Mary in Omaha lined up Wednesday to transfer 20 native Nebraska fish into a custom-designed, 520-gallon aquarium installed last week in the science building at the Catholic university for women.
The sleek, bow-front tank replaced a nondescript display case in the building's main hallway. Former student Alicia Clough, who graduated last May, came up with the idea for an aquarium about two years ago, after participating in a water quality research program at the college.
"I thought it would be awesome to have an aquarium there - but I wondered, 'Are we allowed to have actual live animals in biology?'" she said.
Jeff Keyte, an assistant professor of biology, answered that question with a resounding yes. He encouraged Clough to develop a formal proposal. She researched prices and vendors, and by fall 2011, administrators approved the $28,000 project, pending funding.
The biggest challenge was finding the money, Keyte said. Fortunately, Christine Pharr, vice president of academic affairs, loved the idea and helped solicit donations. She persuaded several members of her family, including her husband, father and aunt to contribute. Other donors included alumni, faculty and the Class of 2012.
An aquarium dedication ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Feb. 8, College of St. Mary spokeswoman Brittney Long said.
Ruff Waters, an Omaha company that specializes in aquariums, ponds and water features, designed the set-up, which includes an acrylic tank, state-of-the-art pumps that are energy-efficient and an LED lighting system that mimics sunrise, sunset, moonlight and even lightning.
Though it is not a research aquarium - the College of St. Mary is not authorized to perform research on vertebrates - Keyte said the aquarium will be used as a living laboratory to study water quality and the habits and life cycles of the fish. It will also foster a sense of community as science students in Keyte's classes take on the duties of feeding the fish, cleaning the tank and changing its water.
Clough got "first fish" honors.
Scott Ruff, owner of the aquarium company, chose bluegill, black crappie, catfish and perch for the exhibit. Using a small plastic container, he fished a 4-inch perch from its bucket and handed it to Clough, who climbed a stepstool to tip the fish into the tank. The swimmer quickly hid among the rocks and plastic plants.
Maryann Forsell, a biochemistry major from Norfolk, Neb., who keeps a betta fish in her dormitory room, transferred a bluegill into the tank. She said she was eager to watch the fish grow bigger.
Katie James, a biology and chemistry major from Omaha, said she plans to help care for the fish during her final semester.
"I'm excited about getting life into the science building," said James, an aspiring veterinarian who occasionally brings her pet python, Basil, to biology class.
Skyler Bentley, a junior biology major, said she planned to talk to her microbiology instructor about studying bacteria filtered from the water.
"Can we name them?" asked Ischel Gonzalez-Kelso, a chemistry major.
Several students started peering into the aquarium, studying the movements of the fish. One student remarked, "We've got to figure out their personalities and come up with twenty names."